PDFs - What Are They, and Why Do We Still Rely On Them?
19 Apr

PDFs - What Are They, and Why Do We Still Rely On Them?

Mahipal Nehra

The phrase Portable Document Format may sound relatively new to most people. But when you condense it to its acronym PDF, almost every person you ask will have an idea of what it is.

PDFs are everywhere, from web pages to documents shared on messaging apps and email attachments. But as common as they are, few people know what they really are and why they are so common.

But if you are in a business where sharing files is common practice, you will want to know more about PDFs than the ordinary person. This guide delves into PDFs to look into what they are and why they are still used today.

The History of PDF

The phrase paperless office has been flying around for ages and was the inspiration for the development of PDF. Initially, Adobe intended to create a document format that could be easily shareable within its offices to align with its paperless office goals.

In 1993, the technology was released for use by other companies but at a prohibitively high price and so did not pick much traction. In 2008, Adobe released PDF specifications as an open standard allowing other companies to develop their technologies for creating, viewing, and editing PDF documents.

The release of the open standard played a significant role in increasing PDF popularity to where it is today and has also seen huge leaps in its evolution.

Why are PDFs Still Popular After So Many Years?


Compatibility is the ability of a document to be viewed and accessed on various platforms, devices, and operating systems; PDF is a front-runner in this respect.

The best part is that it doesn't lose its formatting or layout when viewed from a different operating system, so what you see is what you get, which is critical, especially when the document is for printing purposes.

While you can view it as a full page on an Android device, some apps allow readers to use mobile phone mode, which makes scanning through a document much easier.


PDFs are among the most secure file formats available due to their ability to provide password protection and document encryption.

Password protection and document encryption work together. Once password protection is activated in a document, its contents stay encrypted, making it unreadable without the correct key.

PDFs also support electronic signatures, which are legally binding in many countries. This feature enables users to sign documents electronically, eliminating the need for physical signatures, providing an added security layer, and establishing a document's authenticity.

Electronic signatures are especially critical for contract documentation and other official paperwork with parties working remotely.

Smaller and Take Up Less Space

When running a business, your need for storing files increases significantly, and some documents are too important to delete. The first and most expensive option is upgrading your system's storage space. The other option is to leverage the small size of PDF files to maximize your space by converting every convertible file to PDF.

PDFs are also great for saving web pages using the "save as PDF" function. By saving a webpage as a PDF, the user captures the entire page as it appears on the screen, including images and formatting for future reference, so they do not need to search for the page again on the internet.

Final Words

As seen from this post, PDFs have come a long way since their inception and continue to evolve, making them versatile and reliable tools for businesses and individuals alike.

As the world progresses towards a more digital future, it's safe to say that PDFs will remain a staple in document sharing and archiving. Its technology will only need to adapt to changing times as it has always done to get its place in it.

Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 19 Apr, 2023 Web